jump to navigation

You’d Think She’d Look Happier April 19, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General.
add a comment

DbJd8WpW4AIHgAx.jpg large

Advertisements

The Quickest Whiskey Tasting Review Of The Day April 16, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Cooking, Food.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Not too long ago, I discovered I like rye whiskey. Up until that point, the only whiskey I’d regularly work into my rotation was Jack Daniels. “Normal” bourbons didn’t do much for me, I wasn’t crazy about the Canadian whiskeys I tried (which turns out to be meaningful in my exercise today), and I’ve only liked single malt scotches of the scotches I’ve tried.

So after trying a rye cocktail at a bar, I went to good ol’ Costco and got a monster sized bottle of Bulleit Rye, a 95% rye mash whiskey that I liked very much, blended into my usual concoction of a couple of fingers worth over ice with a splash of lemon juice & then mixed with a lemon seltzer.

I wondered about some of the other ryes out there, though. Would I notice any difference?

An easy way to test, I figured, was to head over to the local BevMo and grab a few minis of whatever ryes they had and do comparison tests each day, making 2 half-sized drinks, one with the Bulleit and one with the special guest star.

Well, they only had the Jack Daniels Rye, so I grabbed a mini (along with a six of some Moretti Rosso, one of my favorite beers) and headed home.

I mixed both the Jack Daniels Rye and the Bulleit in identical proportions in separate glasses, and then did some extremely enjoyable taste testing.

Gotta say… the Bulleit was superior, and I’m thinking I can actually pick up the difference between its 95% rye mash versus the Jack Daniels 75%. The JD isn’t bad, but has an odd finish to it, similar to what I felt when I mixed a Crown Royal Canadian whiskey drink some time ago. And “Canadian Whiskey” is mostly corn/bourbon-y type stuff flavored with rye in varying amounts.

Funny…. you’d figure a 75% rye on top of what Jack Daniels old number 7 is would be right up my alley…. but evidently it isn’t. I preferred JD to other bourbons because of it’s subtle sourness, which is why I figured I liked rye in the first place.

Sigh. I’m a prima donna…. I gotta have nearly pure rye for the stronger and more consistent flavor in the finish after each sip.

Though I gotta admit… the rye-IPA thing is WAY too much sharp/bitter for me, and I’ll leave that stuff to others. I’m not a big IPA guy anyway.

So perhaps I’ll try a small bottle of one of the other pure rye mash versions to compare to Bulleit, although the easier thing to do would be to head back to Costco and just get another 1.75 liter job and savor it over the several months it’d take me to go through it. This ain’t exactly rocket science.

And His Nickname is “Big Sexy” April 15, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball.
add a comment

Bartolo Colon is 5’11” and weighs 285 pounds. He’ll be turning 45 next month, and has played for 11 different teams in his 21 year career.

He’s the oldest active player in the majors, and the only active player who once played for the long-gone Montreal Expos.

Teams would cut him from their rosters, thinking he’d retire. He’d sign with others, even for a minor league deal, before inevitably coming back to the majors.

He’s one of 18 pitchers who have beaten every major league team.

Tonight he took a perfect game against last year’s World Series champions into the 8th inning before it got broken up.

I love baseball. Physicality helps, but skills matter so much more. Just ask BIG SEXY!

A Tuscan Shrimp & White Bean Stew April 14, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Cooking, Food.
add a comment

This one was amazingly easy and came out great. I’d already bought shrimp for dinner. I hemmed and hawed between making a simple scampi and doing a dry-cooked szechuan shrimp, and then I played the episode of America’s Test Kitchen my DVR recorded today where they did this recipe (mostly), and cooked this one up immediately after watching it.

First, I peeled the shrimp (3/4 pound) and then brined ’em in a bowl of water with a tablespoon each of salt & sugar, for about 15 minutes.

I took the shells and sauteed ’em in some olive oil until they turned pink & fragrant, then added 1/2 cup of water to make a little fresh shrimp broth. I let it simmer maybe 5 minutes, then removed the shells and set aside for later.

Into the main saute pan: half an onion, chopped – three garlic cloves, sliced (not minced – overwhelming garlic flavor that way), a few pinches of red pepper flakes,  maybe 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper, and a few pinches of kosher salt – all cooked in some olive oil for a few minutes until golden and soft.

Added a 1/4 tsp of fish sauce (they used actual anchovies on TV), then added 1/2 can of chopped tomato, and 1/2 can of cannelini beans with their liquid, along with the shrimp broth. Brought it up to near boil, then simmered it, covered, for 15 minutes.

Added the drained/patted dry shrimp, mixed in, recovered & let simmer for 7-10 minutes.

At the end, hit it with some lemon juice & basil (on TV they also added lemon zest).

It looked thicker on TV than what I finished with, but this was easily taken care of by removing shrimp/beans/tomato/whatever with a slotted spoon & then cooking down the remainder for only a few minutes.

Good stuff – a wonderful mix of shrimp flavor with hits of the pepper, and then followed by the lemon and basil combo, all mellowed by the creaminess of the beans. HELL YEAH!

I had it with some ciabatta bread (any good crunchy bread’ll do), side salad and a pinot grigio.

Then I watched the rest of the America’s Test Kitchen episode, and their top rated manual pasta making machine turned out to be the most expensive $75 retail Atlas 150, the one I FOUND AT A THRIFT STORE, USED ONLY ONCE MAYBE, STILL IN ITS BOX, FOR ONLY FIFTEEN BUCKS!!!!

I RULE!!!

 

 

 

Go On, Knock It Off April 13, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General.
add a comment

And then he’ll give you an old fashioned FIST BEATING!

FRONTIER STYLE!!!!

Journeying Through Some Old Mystery/Horror Comics, Part 1 April 8, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Art, Books, Cats.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

I recently bought a boatload of old 1960s-1970s Gold Key horror/mystery comic book scans from this guy’s online store, and have been plowing through them.

It’s been a lot of childhood nostalgia, as well as a lot of memory-poking of old stories and the actual old comic books I’ve got boxed up & totally unorganized (perhaps a summer project might be going through them all & fixing that). The actual copies of these things are pretty tough to find and aren’t too cheap, so the digitized deal is quite the good one, if you enjoy this sort of crap.

And I certainly do!

I started out reading the complete run of the Dark Shadows series, all 35 of ’em. I have one actual issue of the thing, bought by my mom since we were both fans of the actual show at the time, and it disappointed both of us.

And in reading the rest, the reasons for that disappointment so many years ago still stand – while the Gold Key DS series reproduces a few of the characters from the show & utilizes vampire/werewolf/witchcraft plotlines, it doesn’t have the tone of the show at all. The art is also poor – the only character who looks like her TV counterpart is Joan Bennett’s Elizabeth. Barnabas the vampire is the main character & hero of the thing, but Julia’s role from the TV show is reduced to nothing, and Angelique only turns up a few times to torment him as a ghost. And they don’t look anything like Grayson Hall and Lara Parker, nor does Barnabas look like Jonathan Frid.

Later comic book versions of the thing I perused on Amazon are far truer to the look & feel of the 1966 TV series, and anything beats the forced campiness of the Tim Burton movie. I trudged through them, a couple of the stories weren’t too bad, but overall, weak tea.

Then I started on two different comics I had a few issues of back in the day – The Twilight Zone and Ripley’s True Ghost Stories. Both of these titles began in the early 1960s and ended around 1980 or so.

The T-Zones have a wider range of stories, from offbeat scifi to eerie revenge tales, similar to the TV show. A comic Rod Serling serves as narrator, and while the art is generic, there are clear attempts by the artists to crib the look of some characters from familiar faces of TV actors who you’d expect to turn up on the show. While many of the stories are formulaic and hit a real dead spot in the mid 1970s before recovering somewhat before the title ended, a lot of them are pretty good. Much like the show, you can categorize the stories into various sub-genres: someone changes identity (either via clothes, bodies, faces, masks, etc) and things go right or more often wrong; someone gets wishes granted and things go wrong; someone enters the past/alternate dimension/reality and must escape;weird unreal stuff happens to someone ordinary and then we find out we’re not in an ordinary world, a la “Eye of the Beholder,” etc.

The Ripley’s stories are all along similar lines – someone in the present or the past comes across some place that’s haunted, some local or creepy caretaker tells them the sad story of some wrongful death that resulted in the ghost, and they either GTFO or find a way to put the spirit to rest. The best of these are either the creepiest, such as one tale of a voodoo shaman with a sugar cane harvesting zombie army who try to dig their way back into their own graves, or ones where the “believe it or not” aspect is most likely true – like the story of two graverobbers who accidentally revive the “corpse” whose jewels they try to steal – a young woman who then returns home after being mistaken for dead and several years later gives birth to Sir Walter Scott.

I’m moving through the Grimm’s Ghost Stories series and the Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery ones now, more on those later. In the meantime, here’s one of my favorite stories from the collection so far… read it & you’ll see why I’ve always liked it.  It’s written (uncredited) by the legendary comic writer Len Wein. Link to PDF: A Thing About Cats

It Just Taught Him Exactly How Much This Episode Sucks April 3, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Uncategorized.
add a comment

“Of course…. a child could have written a better one…”

Even Though It’s April Fools’ Day, Here’s Some Ironic Truth April 1, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

I’ve been way more active on this blog lately, a result of abandoning Facebook posting about a month and half ago. I’m only direct messaging people and playing Scrabble on it these days. Got tired of the endless stream of shit in the newsfeed. Got tired of seeing SO much bad info being spread and feeling totally powerless to affect any of it. Insult added to injury when Facebook’s spiffy new idiotic “fake news” algorithms would block me from posting links to comment threads that illustrated where someone’s lame-ass meme was off base. And lest ye think I was posting links to the psychic down the street, Facebook blocked links I posted from the Washington Post & NPR (never mind how any of us might feel about either of those…. but seriously, Facebook?).

So I figured I’d move my silly posts and such back to here, and perhaps it’d spur me to return to writing the longer blog pieces on movies or TV shows or music or whatever, and it’s mostly worked. But this Oatmeal comic certainly rings true – I still have my blog linked to a Facebook author page, and I constantly get notifications (and now by email) to purchase boosts for my posts.

Um, no thanks.

I’ve yet to see Facebook as a real source of traffic for this blog. My best traffic has come from particular posts that got linked somewhere else online. And from what I can tell, they usually don’t translate into higher book sales. And that’s really the main thing I’m interested in if I’m gonna drive more traffic to this blog.

I’m hoping that all the negative vibes Facebook, Twitter, and the like have been getting will mean a return to the more indy-open field  blogosphere of many years ago. Maybe people will learn to use bookmarks and subscription notifications again. And then people can write and read whatever the hell they want and evaluate for themselves.

Although…. look how stupid they are on Facebook with the confirmation-biased memes.

Fuck it all.

Face the truth:

 

Don’t Listen To That Shiksa, Moses! You’re Meant For So Much More! March 30, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General, Movies.
Tags:
add a comment

Didn’t you see how she screwed around with Margot Channing’s marriage?

She’ll play two different villains on Batman fer chrissakes!

DON’T DO IT!

Get in touch with your SECRET INNER JEW!

Cross the desert, it’ll be worth it, Lily Munster awaits!

ABC’s annual airing of the Jewish Wizard of Oz will be tomorrow night, the Saturday before Easter, as it is every year.

And I always wind up watching all or a decent part of it. Yeah, I know…. over the top scenery chewing, incredibly stilted dialogue, bla bla bla….

I DON’T CARE!!! I FUCKING LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!

Moses, Jewish law AND God versus a lineup of villains played by Vincent Price, Edward G. Robinson and Yul Brynner? How can you not LOVE that??

They loved it in 1956, and you’ll love it today!

It’s how I want my Bible movies, too. I don’t want them to look like reality, especially the earlier you go in the Bible. The cinematic landscape has to transcend reality towards the imagination of the spiritual. DeMille’s epic scale, amazing use of color and imagery – combined with the clunkiness of silent-era style actor blocking and shot framing all come together to produce such a landscape. Other Bible films don’t measure up. I like lots of  ’em too – both the silent DeMille and Nicholas Ray versions of King of Kings, Zefferelli’s TV miniseries Jesus of Nazareth,  as well as quasi-Bible films like Ben-Hur… but none of them resonate in the memory like The Ten Commandments does.

Especially when you watch the damn thing every year for decades. I must have seen this film three dozen times by now.

So have a Happy Passover, everyone. And a Happy Easter to all the goyim! Remember, The Last Supper was a Passover Seder. I bet Judas cheated to find the afikomen and get a shekel from Jesus. It would be in character.

So let it be written, so let it be done!

 

 

Opening Day 2018! March 29, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball.
add a comment

’tis Spring, and this old fart’s thoughts turn to… baseball.

Opening day is finally here, there’s a slate of games on the dish, although they’re saving the Yankees/Bluejays matchup for a Friday night on MLB instead of today. Meh.

After pleasantly surprising me last year and achieving the amazing run that brought them to within 1 game of making the World Series for the first time since 2009, the Yankees seem poised for a similar run this year.

Although Greg Bird is already off to his traditional months-long injury streak, the rest of the lineup looks very solid, and adding last year’s NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton to a batting row already loaded with the homerun producing power of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorious will mean lots and lots of offense.

Pitching got better in the second half last year once Tanaka got his act together. Hopefully that will continue, hopefully Severino will continue to grow as the ace of the staff, hopefully Sabathia will continue to shine in the twilight of his career, hopefully Montgomery will grow into a solid young starter, hopefully Betances will fix his mechanics and become more consistent, hopefully Boone will turn out to be a good manager ….. and as Benjamin Franklin said, “He who lives upon hope dies farting.”

But you never know!

Their main rivals in the division, as God intended, will be a strengthened Red Sox lineup. Best rivalry in all of sports, no contest.

So I guess it’s time for some predictions. Since I’m clearly biased, I see the Yankees winning the AL East over the Sox, who ought to make a wild card spot. I like the Indians in the Central, with the Twins giving them some grief, but not much else. I think the Astros will repeat in the west, with a strengthened but not-quite-balanced Angels making the other wild card.

I’d go with the Nationals in the NL East by default. There’s no one else really challenging them there for it. The Mets run hot and cold, the Braves are rebuilding and have some good rookies and may surprise this year, but I don’t think taking the division will be one of those surprises. Miami dismantled itself, and the Phillies just blow. The NL Central might be the most competitive division of all. You’d think the Cubs would repeat despite the changes in personnel, but St Louis always manages to be competitive and made some nice additions, Milwaukee will be in there, and maybe even the Reds can surprise. The once strong Pirates are really the only team you can count out. I’ll go with the Cards winning it by a hair over a wild card Cubs, in what’s really a roll of the dice. In the west, the Dodgers look poised to repeat, with the Rockies and Diamondbacks breathing down their necks, either of which could make the other wild card. That’ll be another good divisional race, especially since I don’t see LA going on the sort of win streak they managed last summer again this year. It & Alex Wood’s won-loss record felt like a fluke at the time, and still feels even more like one in retrospect. I’d like to think Aaron Judge’s post-All Star game batting slump was also a fluke. We shall see.

Making post-season predictions at this point is stupid. There will be trades & the like, late summer, that will have an enormous effect on the post season, i.e. Justin Verlander going to the Astros.

Welcome back, baseball. You’ll make a nice addition to the Final 4 this weekend.